The most beautiful time of the year is here again. Whether it's the indulgent feasting, fun social gatherings, or just a much-needed break, Christmas is probably everyone's favourite holiday. And if you have some extra leave to clear before the year ends? It’s not too late to plan a getaway. Make the most out of the December holidays and book a last-minute vacation to these new destinations.
Flying to Bali is always a great last-minute vacation idea. But make no mistake, that doesn’t mean you should confine yourself to the usually touristy spots of Seminyak or Ubud. Somewhere in between, you’ll find Amed. On our travels, we’ve heard of people raving about this underrated fishing village. Perhaps you'd recognise Lempuyang Luhur, which is currently one of the most famous viewpoints in Bali, where you can see the majestic Mt Agung framed between two temple gates. But laid-back Amed also has a burgeoning craft cafe scene, amazing community, and numerous diving sites.
Dive deep and you’ll find that Amed’s surrounding waters are some of the best in the world for diving, with enormous sunken ships and colourful aquatic life. Amed draws divers of all levels, whether you’re looking to get your PADI certification or a pro diver adding another notch to your belt. Some famous dive sites include the Japanese Wreck, an old patrol ship that is now home to a thriving reef, and Amed Wall, home to gorgonians and reef sharks.
You can easily find everything from eco-friendly cafes and fancy restaurants to local warungs here. Tropikal Cafe is said to have the best Western breakfast in Amed. Like most places in Bali, you can expect some smashed avocado on toast and refreshing smoothie bowls. If you’re looking for Balinese cuisine and chilled out vibes, head to Warung Ombak for a Mie Goreng and Bintang combo.
Stay in the heart of tropical paradise at Oasis. The rooms have traditional Balinese furnishing with locally-sourced artworks. It's a five-minute walk to the beach, too.
If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands and would like to venture a little further, consider Perth, just a five-hour flight from Singapore. While Perth City itself is home to a thriving cafe and craft beer scene and great beaches, it is also the gateway to the rugged yet stunning Western Australia.
Most visitors to Perth will get into a car and drive south to the Margaret River region. But for a different experience, we recommend heading up north to Shark Bay and Coral Coast for some of Australia's most stunning beaches instead. Just be careful of kangaroos crossing the road if you're driving at night.
When in Australia, one thing you can't miss is the cafe culture there. La Veen Coffee Heritage is located in a heritage-listed building right in the CBD, serving up some of the best coffee in Perth. The menu features ethically-sourced coffee made with a custom six-group Synesso espresso machine. And definitely grab some brekkie while you're there.
Go big and stay at the swanky Crown Towers Perth located in Burswood, just a few train stations away from the CBD. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows boasting unparalleled views of the Swan River and city.
In Luang Prabang, time seems to stand still. The former capital of Laos is home to gilded temples that shimmer under the sun and streets dotted with crumbling French colonial architecture. Wander into its back alleys and you'll find trendy cocktail bars and contemporary restaurants that won't look out of place in a cosmopolitan like Singapore.
Whatever you do, don't miss Wat Xiengthong out from your itinerary. It's an intricately-embellished 16th-century temple complex known as the "monastery of the golden city". It's safe to say that it is the most important temples in Laos.
If you're celebrating Christmas in Luang Prabang, we've got just the restaurant for you. Located in an alleyway off Luang Prabang's main thoroughfare, Manda de Laos is the perfect place to celebrate special occasions. It's set within a UNESCO lotus pond and offers classic Laotian dishes with a twist. Expect dishes like grilled buffalo and Mekong fish with lemongrass served with Laotian sticky rice.
Parasol Blanc Hotel ticks off all the right boxes: affordable, centrally-located, yet beautifully-finished with all the right amenities. Its rooms each have a balcony overlooking the lotus pond set within the property.
Since the civil war ended in 2009, Sri Lanka has gone through a massive transformation – and now welcomes visitors from around the world. Its capital and largest city, Colombo, is now home to charming neighbourhoods (like Fort and Pettah) filled with colourful markets where you'll find merchants piling their wares along the streets and restaurants boasting local flavours and spices, juxtapositioned against a thriving cafe scene.
When in Sri Lanka, learn more about its history and take a visit to its museums and its many temples. After all, the island was once an important trading hub along the Silk Road route. Don't miss the Colombo National Museum, which was established in 1877 – and is the largest museum in Sri Lanka.
For the best cheese kotthu (roti prata sliced with cheese and other fillings) and iced Milo, head to Hotel De Pilawoos. in Colpetty. The family-owned restaurant was established in 1979, and is still going strong, welcoming both locals and tourists alike.
Stay in an urban hideaway in the Colpetty district at Colombo Court Hotel & Spa. The boutique hotel offers rooms that are beautifully decorated and complete with modern necessities required by any business traveller.